1 Timothy 5:1-16
Life in the Local Church
How to Treat Those in the Church
Good Morning! Go ahead and grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy, chapter 5. As you are turning there, I know there have been some tough times recently with some of us here, but I do pray that we were all able to take some time these last few days and remember at least a few of the things that God has blessed us with, that we can be thankful for.
Today, we are going to continue in our series through 1 and 2 Timothy, titled “Life in the Local Church.” It is titled this because one of the things that Paul is doing in writing this letter is he is teaching and reminding Timothy, both what he needs to do to lead the Church, but also, what the church needs to do in order to be faithful to Christ, who is the head of the Church.
In the passage we looked at last week, we saw Paul telling Timothy to make sure to look at himself, to be introspective. He was showing that none of us have ever, “arrived.” That we need to be continually striving to grow deeper in Christ and make sure that we are grounding ourselves in the truth of the Word.
Remember the three points we emphasized last week that Paul shared with Timothy. Read your Bible. Read Your Bible. Read Your Bible. That’s first, above everything. Second, don’t let your personality be an excuse to sin. God gave us our personalities for a reason, to use us for his purposes, but we are never to fall back on, that’s just how I am. Lastly, Pay attention to your thoughts, your actions and your teachings. If you are not purposeful about them, they will veer off course.
Paul starts writing what we know as Chapter 5 of his letter by focusing a little less on the personal aspect with Timothy. Its not completely gone, but he turning to some more practical teaching and advice for ministry in the local church.
So, lets go ahead and read this week’s scripture before we go any further. Ill be reading 1 Timothy, chapter 5, verses 1 through 16. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along, in what ever version you happen to have with you. Again, 1 Timothy 5:1-16, Paul writing the very Words of God, writes:
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
3 Honor widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband,[a] 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.
May God bless the reading of his word.
So, we start with verses 1 & 2, and we see that a prat of what these verses are is a response and a balance to chapter 4, verse 12, where Paul tells Timothy not to let anyone look down on him because of his youth. And Paul is kind of saying, don’t give any one a reason to look down on you because of your youth. Treat those older than you with respect.
Timothy was called to this position by God because of and during his youth. His youth is a part of why he was called by God to Ephesus at that time. But that position does not put him above those whom he is serving and leading. It does not put him above those who have been faithfully serving God for many, many years.
As we established last week, I am the youngest adult in this church. I have been called by God to pastor Bangor Community Church. And as such, I have a lot to teach you and share with you all. At the same time, it would incredibly arrogant of me, incredibly dismissive of me to think that you all don’t have a lot to teach me as well.
Even bigger than that though, in these two verses, we see the family of God and how they are to interact with each other. The church is a place of safety and love, but also a place of accountability, where everyone will be admonished in their sin. And the point of the church is for both of those things to exist in the same place, in the same actions.
In order to do so, we can’t treat everyone the same. Again, back in 4:12, Paul tells Timothy to be an example to believers, among other things… In Purity.
And here, in verses 1 and 2, Paul is showing us that we are to treat each other as family,…In Purity. Again, this letter is written from Paul to Timothy, but it is not only for Him, or not only for Pastors and Church leaders, but this letter, in God’s Word, is for all believers everywhere, always.
We all are to treat those who are older than us, with the respect and honor we would treat our parents with. We are to treat those who are younger than us as we are supposed to treat brothers and sisters, protecting, teaching, and so on. Notice somethings the scripture does not say. It does not say that we are to treat those older than us as old, out of touch, out to pasture, or anything else dismissive. It also does not say that we are to treat those younger than us as our children, which implies an authority and a reason to not listen.
Paul’s point here, and therefore Gods point in this is that we are indeed a family, with Christ as the head. And within that family, we all have things to share and contribute. And we need to listen to each other regardless of our age and our standing. We do so differently however, based on our age and our standing. WE will all also sin. We need to address that in everyone, no matter age or standing. But how we do so differently based on age and standing. For those who cry out, that’s not fair to treat each person differently, think of it like this. For those with kids, you can treat each and every one of your kids equally, but that does not mean that you will treat them all the same. You parent to the child, based on the guidelines of scripture. If you treat each of your kids the same, it would end being not fair to at least the majority, if not all of them.
So, we make sure that each person is treated equally, with love, honor, respect and purity. And that starts right here in this very room. It starts with you, me, the person sitting next to you and the person, that you may not have wanted to see this morning. It starts here in this room, but it certainly does not end in this room.
Now, Paul goes from these two verses and goes into a situation where, once again, he is sharing timeless truths that cross all generational and cultural boundaries and using the biggest example of his time and cultural to share it.
In Johns Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples in chapter 13, verse 35: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
James, the brother of Jesus, writes in his letter, chapter 1, verse 27, Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
In the 1st century, things were very different than they are now in many ways. In this context, there were no safety nets. There were no savings accounts, or 401ks, there was no retirement or Social Security. If some one was in need, they didn’t have the resources available that we are used to now and take for granted. In the best cases, someone in need had only family to rely on and help support them.
Paul tells us that we are to look at for and to take care of widows in need. He says to honor widows who are truly widows. This refers to those who have no family to help them. They have no kids to support them, there parents are already passed and of course their spouse is now gone. In this case, the church is to take the place of her family and take care of her needs.
But Paul also says something interesting. He says that the church is obligated to tangibly take care of those in need, BUT it must not preempt the family when there is family to take care of them. This may seem strange, one could think, “Who cares, as long as the needs are being met, who cares who is doing the taking care of?”
To a point that is very true. To understand this point, I think, what is being pointed out here, is that we need to understand and remember what the purpose of the family unit is. God created us to be in a family. Mom, Dad, brother, sister, son, daughter, and so one, and rippling outwards, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on.
He did this as an example, especially manifested in the covenant of marriage, to be a glimpse of what true, pure, godly relationships are supposed to be like. Family is to be a glimpse of, a shadow of, a type of the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the holy Spirit and of the relations between ourselves and the trinity as well.
We live in a world filled with sin, filled with broken families and broken relationships. In those instances, the church, which is to act like a family in the way that God created it, is to step in and be the family to the family less. I also, in that see allusions and references to God the Father adopting us as children. And what that looks like in this world. You are not going to go take a kid out of a happy, complete, godly home and adopt them into your family. That would be taking them out of the godly, healthy situation that God created for them and would not be loving or beneficial to them. But a child who has no family, or has a dysfunctional, unhealthy family, in many instances, the loving, godly thing to do for them would be to adopt them into a healthy, loving, godly family.
The same things seem to be what Paul is saying here regarding the church. We are here to be a family together, but also to be a family to those who have no family. We are not to take the place and the responsibility from the family of those who have family. What’s right in the eyes of God is for family to take care of family.
Now, in this, we see two principals laid down next to each other. First, Honor thy father and thy mother. A part of family taking care of family is kids taking care of their parents as they get older and are in need. This is partly repaying for that our parents did for us to raise us, keep us alive and love us. Its also in keeping with the biblical principal woven all throughout scripture, from beginning to end. The principal, again, gets broader than that as well, to family taking care of family.
The second principal we see laid out, next to and parallel to the first is this; the church is to take care of those who are truly and really in need. And one thing that is pointed out is this, if there is a person in the church who is truly in need, they are likely and often truly dependent on God, and prayer, and the church. For those who are disciples of Christ, the two go hand in hand.
Paul knows that there are those who will refuse to take on the responsibility of caring for their family and he doesn’t cut them any slack. He says that if you have family, and the closer the family, the more extreme this is, but if you have family that is in need, genuine need, and you do not do what you are able to do for them, then you have rejecting and disobeyed the teachings of Jesus himself and the Bible.
The Bible is clear on this point about what’s right and what’s wrong. James says in his letter, ch 4, verse 17: So, whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. So, if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Our actions show where our faith is. Jesus says that if we love him, we will follow his commands. Pretty simple right there.
The principal here is that we are to start somewhere, and we start with our family, those closest to us. The bigger context is that it is up to each of us and the church as a whole to take care of those who are unable to provide for themselves, specifically and especially widows and orphans.
Paul then goes into what are the qualifications, for lack of a better term, for the widows that the church should be taking care of. He says that a widow to be taken care of by the church must be of an age where she is unlikely to remarry. It doesn’t mean she is forbidden or won’t remarry, but she can’t count on that to be taken care of. She must be hospitable and taking good care of those around her. She must have raised her kids well, been a good mother. She must be well thought of and above reproach. And finally, devoted to God, to the church, and to good works.
The reason Paul lays these traits out is not because some people deserve love and help and others don’t, but what Paul is saying here goes back specifically to the widow being devoted to God, the church and to good works. And to be honest, qualifications might be too strong of a word. Guidelines is better. What Paul is saying is strive be and live like this.
And this is actually a very big commitment that Paul is asking for here from the widows. He is calling them to serve and to be committed to the local church. And that’s why this list is there. Paul listed out qualifications for those who would serve as elders and deacons in chapter 3 of this letter. And here is showing that this list of qualifications or guidelines is for those who are volunteering along side the officers and assisting them in serving the church. Again, a very big commitment.
To contrast that, he refers to younger widows and gives them different directions. Younger widows should look to get married again. Marriage is good, it is a gift from God and the desire for marriage is good as well.
And Paul is saying, you don’t have to serve the church in the same way as the older widows. Don’t make that commitment to serve God by dedicating your life to the church. Instead, you can serve God by having a godly marriage, raising kids in the faith and serving in other areas. As a quick aside, I saw a great comment this week. It asked, “What’s the best church growth strategy?” and it answered, “Have a lot of kids and raise them in the faith.”
Now the reason Paul tells the younger widows to serve in this way instead, is that, if you do not have the gift of singleness, that without marriage, it is too easy to get focused on the wrong things instead of staying committed to the church. So younger widows, Paul says, marry, bear children, manage your household well and live a righteous life.
Without marriage, being single without the gift of singleness, idleness can all too easily creep in. Without the commitment of marriage, it is too easy to get used to doing whatever you want, whenever you want. Passions can grow unchecked. Gossip and busy bodiness can take over and other sins can distract from serving God wholly and completely.
Jesus says that we are to not have even the appearance of evil. The old proverb often holds true, “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” With too much free time comes idleness, with idleness, with nothing specific to live for, we can be ripe for the pickens. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
False teachers will be quick to jump on this opportunity as well. Just as Paul has been warning about in this letter. They will be quick to get you distracted of off the Bible, off the church, telling you to live how you want, you deserve it. You’ve already done and given so much, why bother right now? You’ll have plenty of time later. YOLO! You only live once!
Those are the kinds of things that can take our focus off God the Father, off Jesu Christ and his sacrifice for us and off the Bible as the very Word of God.
Paul finishes up the section we are looking at this morning by summing up his main point of the whole section. If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.
To take care of those who are truly in need, whom no one else will take care, this is the church’s duty. This is how we show the love of Christ. Of course, we know that its not enough to just show the love of Christ, but we must share the Gospel, the Good news with words. That there is one mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus. God became man to save sinners. Jesus Christ, God the Son, came down, born a man, lived a perfect life, died a death in the place of us, rose from the dead, defeating sin and death and is sitting at the right hand of God the Father right now in Heaven. Our salvation, God refraining from pouring out his holy wrath on our sin, is only because of his grace alone. The vehicle he uses to pour out his grace is through faith alone. The object of that faith is in Jesus Christ alone. That is not simply shown through our actions, it needs to be told in order to be believed.
But we are also commanded to show that love to those we encounter. And in this case, we, the church, are to take care of those who truly need it. But we are also to prioritize. If there is someone else, a family member for example, who can meet the needs of someone, we let them do it. This frees up the church resources and time to take care of those who do not have someone close to them that can take care of them.
Practicality alone is not a reason to do something, that is one of the ways that the culture has watered down and diluted the Gospel and our actions and our witness. But God is a God of practicality and he this is one of those instances. Let us remember what he has called us to do and why we are compelled to obey. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Today, we remember Christs workmanship, prepared before time existed. We remember the love of God and what it did for us. We remember and celebrate Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy. God holding out his hands to us, disobedient and contrary people.
We remember the sacrifice, the bloodshed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. But We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.
Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.
Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.
I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.
Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished, we will take the cracker together as a church family.
Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.
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